(Torah Portion Terumah) Forever One!
Raising funds for a worthy cause is usually a daunting task, requiring publicity, personal visits to donors, incentives etc. This week’s portion describes the fundraising campaign for the materials used in the construction of the Mishkan – Tabernacle – G-d’s dwelling place on earth.
This campaign was unusual because a call went out for donations of 13 specific materials, and in one day, the massive amount needed for the construction was donated so that a call went out that they should no longer donate! Fascinating! No knocking on doors, no guests of honor or printed flyers, just Moshe’s call to donate and it all came flooding in. What about this campaign was so unique?
Firstly, it came on the heels of G-d forgiving the Jews for participating in the grave sin of the golden calf. The Mishkan indicated that G-d was interested in dwelling among the Jews and having an intimate relationship with them. G-d’s connection to us would be manifest through the sacrifices and other rituals. The Jews were eager to renew this relationship with G-d and this motivated them to donate eagerly, generously and quickly.
There was another aspect of this drive that was unique. There were 13 specific materials, i.e. gold, silver, copper, acacia wood, wool, linen etc. requested and only those specific items were used in the construction of the Mishkan. Since the actual donated materials were used for the Mishkan, the Jews wanted to donate from the generosity of their hearts and that motivated them to give.
Bechor Shor explains that all the components of the Mishkan lasted forever. When they were no longer used, they were hidden away in the recesses beneath the Temple Mount. Knowing that their contribution was going to be preserved forever was an additional motivation for their eagerness to contribute.
Is there anything today that we can say for certain will last forever? Of course we believe and hope for peace in the world, and we invest, build and create, based on the hope that things will last. But will this be forever?
The only thing that is forever is G-d and His will.
The verse relates that when G-d formed Adam from the soil of the earth, “He blew into his nostrils a living spirit.”
Our Sages explain this to mean that our breath and spirit of life comes directly from G-d, and even when that spirit of life exits one’s body, the spirit of life – one’s Neshama – soul lives on forever – because it was instilled and breathed by the Eternal One Himself. Every one of us has a touch of eternity.
To protect, elevate and guard this holy, pure and eternal Neshama, G-d personally gave us His Torah – which is eternal laws and directions how we are to live our lives. When we make the decision to adhere to the Torah dictates we also gain eternal reward.
The Zohar – our Kaballah refers to the unity of the Jewish people, the Torah and G-d as one sanctified entity which represents eternity.
Today is Rosh Chodesh Adar. Each month of the Hebrew calendar has a symbol – a Mazal – constellation. The Mazal for Adar is fish. Fish by nature are a cold species – they don’t generate physical warmth as other creatures do.
When the wicked Haman picked the month of Adar for his genocide of the Jewish people, he saw them as fish – they were cold towards their traditions and lacking passion.
This got him excited because it meant that their protective shields, the Torah and Mitzvos, were lacking and they were vulnerable.
Haman’s premise was mistaken, because the Jews are able to rise above the effects of a Mazal.
So when they followed Mordechai and Esther’s plea to recommit themselves to the Almighty, through fasting, prayer, and the study of the Torah, they were able to rise above the power of the Mazal of coldness and commit themselves to the Almighty with passion and warmth. Thus they were able to thwart his evil decree and have Haman eliminated.
Times have changed. Terrorist’s names and strategies have changed. But our antidote to evil forever remains the same – when the Jewish people, the Torah and G-d are one!
Wishing you a most enjoyable and uplifting Shabbat!
Rabbi Dovid and Malki Saks and family